Jumberto Avedano, 60, worked on a repaving
project on Yaqui Pass Road in Borrego
Springs yesterday. (John R. McCutchen /
it's been hot the past couple of weeks where you
live? Try a Borrego Springs summer. It reached 114
Wednesday and 108 yesterday.
folks there withstand it?
Jumberto Avedano, for example, a flagman who has
been sitting in the middle of a remote highway for
weeks warning people that the road ahead is closed.
Or the park ranger rides his bike every day because
he's convinced that it accustoms his body to the
oppressive heat. Or the waitress at the main bar in
town who often sees dehydrated drunks come in and
forces them to drink water rather than beer.
the hottest month in the Borrego Valley, where highs
average 107 degrees. August is right behind at 106.
The hottest day ever recorded in Borrego Springs was
June 27, 1990, at 120.3 degrees, according to the
National Weather Service.
comparison purposes, the average high in July at San
Diego's Lindbergh Field is just under 76, according
to the weather service.
days in Borrego even have some humidity to go along
with the blistering heat. Thunderstorms are forecast
11 a.m. Wednesday, Avedano, 60, of El Centro, was
doing what he's been doing since April — sitting in
front of traffic cones on Yaqui Pass Road, working
as a flagman. He sat beneath a yellow umbrella on a
cooler filled with water. For eight hours a day, as
the sun beats down, Avedano makes sure no one drives
past because a re-asphalting crew is working a
couple of miles south.
from El Centro (104 yesterday), so I'm used to the
heat,” Avedano said. “I drink about 15 bottles of
water a day and try not to move much.”
his bosses, project manager Mario Escalera of
Granite Construction, said safety is No. 1 for all
the men who've been resurfacing highways under a
county contract in the Borrego Springs area since
tell the guys to be hydrated the night before, eat
healthy, and we have electrolytes for them in the
truck,” Escalera said.
workers have suffered heatstroke in the past, “but
we really make sure we get them in the truck if
they're showing any signs of trouble.”
Springs, the county's oldest desert community, is an
unincorporated area of northeast San Diego County
surrounded by the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert
State Park. The first homesteaders began to settle
in the valley about 1912.
population fluctuates greatly depending on the time
of year — clearly, summer isn't the peak season.
Officially, about 2,600 folks live there.
before noon Wednesday, Wayne Ferguson, 58, of El
Centro and Mike Tobin, 66, of Boulevard ate lunch at
a picnic table beneath a tree in Borrego Springs'
work for Tom Watson Inc., an electrical contractor,
and have been repairing phone lines for AT&T the
past few weeks in the Borrego Valley. They usually
work in Imperial County.
of laugh when it gets hot in the city and I hear
about them setting up cooling centers,” Ferguson
said. “I think, ‘Hey, what about us?’ ”
men said they learned long ago to pace themselves
and to slow things down the hotter it gets.
try to work early and get as much done in the
morning as you can,” Ferguson said.
said that when he was a young man — in 1969, maybe
1970 — he got heatstroke. “Just working too hard and
not drinking enough water,” he said. Ever since
then, he has been careful.
Waitress to the rescue
Carlee's Bar & Grill in the heart of town, Kathy
Chapman, a waitress for the past 10 years, said she
works at the air-conditioned bar to escape the heat.
months out of the year, it's beautiful here,” said
Chapman, 56. “You just have to endure the summer.”
said she frequently sees people come into the bar
who are in trouble and don't even know it.
come out here to hike or whatever without any water
and have been drinking beer all day,” she said.
“They want more beer because they think that alcohol
is like any other liquid.”
said they look haggard and that she can tell from
their eyes that they're severely dehydrated. “We
pour them water and make them drink and explain to
them what's going on.”
rangers strongly discourage anyone from hiking — at
any time of the day — during the summer months. No
one has died so far this year — there have been
close calls — and they want to keep it that way.
and Jim Quinn, five-year residents of Borrego
Springs, were sipping cocktails at the bar. They
said the key is to do all activities in the early
my dog around 5:30 or 6 for an hour,” Wendy Quinn
said. “By the time I'm done, it's already getting
really bad outside.”
and the Quinns said that when it really gets hot —
apparently 114 isn't really hot — they'll
head up to Julian or Palomar Mountain to escape.